sat 08/05/2021

Good People | reviews, news & interviews

Good People

Good People

James Franco nears rock bottom in London-set thriller

Americans abroad: James Franco and Kate Hudson in `Good People'

London property prices could well plummet, not to mention James Franco's ever-wayward career, if enough people see Good People, a staggeringly inept London-set gorefest that casts James Franco as an expat London property developer and Kate Hudson as his schoolteacher-wife who likes buying major appliances for friends as gifts. 

London property prices could well plummet, not to mention James Franco's ever-wayward career, if enough people see Good People, a staggeringly inept London-set gorefest that casts James Franco as an expat London property developer and Kate Hudson as his schoolteacher-wife who likes buying major appliances for friends as gifts. 

But since Danish director Henrik Ruben Genz's English-language feature film debut is likely to sink without a trace, the reputations of all involved should suffer scant permanent damage, and there may even be those who take solace in the news that Hollywood hunks aren't immune from the depredations of dry rot. That particular blight must have affected Kelly Masterson's script, since it's not otherwise clear what might have led these creators to drink from this particular well. Tom Wilkinson playing a dogged detective emerges dignity intact, but pretty much everyone else goes down for the count. (For the record, the film has zilch to do with the acclaimed American play of the same title that came to London in spring 2014.) 

The plot poses the sort of moral dilemma with which Hitchcock would have had a field day: upstanding if childless couple gets drawn into ethical quandary when they discover that their ne'er-do-well neighbour has snuffed it, leaving behind a stash of cash (£220,000 to be precise) that sure could come in handy. Landscape architect Tom (Franco) needs the dosh to help renovate an inherited pile that is beyond their means, while wife Anna (Hudson) is embarking upon crucial IVF treatments that pose their own financial demands. 

As poor luck would have it, other claimants have their own weapon-wielding eyes on the loot due to the deceased's connections to London's criminal underworld and to a drugs cartel that threatens to lead the hapless Americans to an early if not necessarily shallow grave. 

The film's look is certainly distinctive, cinematographer Jorgen Johansson locating at least 50 shades of grey in the capital's colour palette, the prevailing visual drear of a piece, one supposes, with the director's Scandinavian origins. And in an unusual display of evenhandedness as regards such matters, each of our once Oscar-nominated leads gets a separate if none too visually revealing shower scene, without – thank heavens – going the Psycho-style whole hog that one might have feared. 

At the same time, neither star, no matter how comely, can make sense of the gathering idiocy of what amounts to a stale Sam Peckinpah knock-off, director Genz's influences appearing to reach much further back than the Guy Ritchie quasi-comic violent landscape to which this film has been more frequently compared. Frenchman Omar Sy (The Intouchables) snarls suavely as a nattily appareled baddie (Sy pictured above), and Wilkinson manages to etch in his character's back story of a bereaved dad with more sensitivity than the scenario deserves. Anna Friel is barely recognisable as a young mother and chum of Hudson's who wanders headlong into the carnage, carrying her baby with her. Will the infant be permanently scarred by such events? Stay tuned – or maybe not – for the sequel.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Good People


Neither star, no matter how comely, can make sense of the gathering idiocy

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Average: 1 (1 vote)

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